With only five or six games to go the season is approaching crunch time. Who, at the sharp of the table, can hold their nerve and carry through the good form they’ve shown until now? The pressure increases from now on so can those teams who have been in the mix so far maintain it or will they suffer an attack of the footballing wobbles and let others in?
No promotion, relegation, play off or cup issues for us save a fleeting and dubious chance of securing more “Europa glory” (be still my beating heart) so perhaps it’s understandable if thoughts occasionally turn to the summer and preparations for next season?
If we were to sign the players we’ve been linked with, even at this early stage, the Liverpool eleven lining up for the first game of the 2011-12 season would bear no resemblance to the one we will see against Birmingham today. Those who have been linked with us are still playing with their current clubs so it’s premature, and pointless, to suggest they will join us at his early stage?
However I think it is fair to say then we will need to make one or two significant signings if we are to maintain the improvement we’ve seen under Kenny. The good news is that this season we’ve seen younger players given the chance to make their mark thanks to HRH in the Europa League and then Kenny in the last half dozen or so games. However, if owners think this is cheap way of developing the team they are wrong. Said Kenny a few days ago.
“It’s important that there is room for development for players, but it’s also important that you don’t use it as an excuse not to spend money and not improve what you’ve already got. Age does not determine their ability to play. So if we’re convinced we have young players who are better than what’s available, then we’ll keep our younger players. There’s no two ways about it. But that does not say we don’t want to improve as a football club in any way, shape or form. We do need to leave some path open if we do think there are players who can come in.”
I hope the owners realise the importance of the “dual approach” ie, investing it the team whilst bringing on the youngsters? No doubt they are savvy enough to realise that in the long run this could pay dividends in terms cheaply strengthening the team and of course, should needs be, selling on home grown players.
The owners haven’t really made their mark yet. The signings of Suarez and Carroll seemed to be funded by the sale of Torres so the financial cards, be they relating to the squad, a new stadium or tarting up “the old lady”, still remained tightly hugged to the chest. Should one complain? It depends if they play at the right “card” at the appropriate time. I’ve no issue if Fenway are taking time to look at things properly rather than blurt out empty promises and the crass, patronising, superlatives that punctuated Hicks’ and Gillett’s’ period. No doubt all will be revealed in time, Fenway can’t hold back on us forever? When they do make a move it will be scrutinised to the nth degree, it’s perhaps unfair but sadly it’s a legacy from the previous owners, once bitten twice shy?
In the meantime time to concentrate in building on the good run of form we’ve seen. We are now third in the somewhat dubious “current form” league, it’s a bit dodgy but nonetheless a sign that since Kenny took over we’ve improved. However, the nagging doubt about inconsistency remains, for example we lose to West Ham beat the Mancs then lose to West Brom and then beat Manchester City and do well at Arsenal. What will Birmingham represent, another step forward or a banana skin? For all our good form I still find myself in a position that I can never take any game as a guaranteed three points Many will say that I should never do this, even if we are thirty odd games unbeaten and top by fifteen points, but you know what I mean?
Birmingham are the only club who have secured domestic silverware this season however since then they appear to have seized up in dramatic fashion. It would be a surprise that, since beating Arsenal, they have suddenly become a bad side so surely this is poof of the mental aspect that can affect football teams. Perhaps the increasing spectre of a relegation fight will snap them out of it and of course it is up to us to ensure that they remain “under the influence”, for at least one more game, and prevent such realisations from translating itself into results?
Team wise the jury is still out over the fitness and Jamie Carragher and Andy Carroll. Carragher was involved in a clash of heads with John Flanagan on Sunday whilst Carroll did his knee in and, despite carrying on for a while, finally when off. My guess is that Kenny won’t risk either until the next game.
Prediction? Regular readers of this nonsense will know that I rarely go for anything else other than a Liverpool win particularly when we are home, the only issue is the score. So, smugly fresh from getting the result AND the score right last Sunday, I’ll say 2-0 to us and I’ll even say that the scorers will be Suarez and Kuyt, oh and it be will a sunny day – I reckon I’ll at least get the last part right!
Finally get well soon to Gerard Houllier. Everyone knows what he went through when he was with us but thankfully it doesn’t look as serious this time? Nonetheless here’s to a speedy recovery?